Friday, July 30, 2010

Just Enjoy Today

No Playgrounds & Lollipops today friends.  We've been in swimsuits or gardening attire all week.
Today I will focus on just enjoying the moments.
Today is the last beach day we have before Taylor starts Kindergarten.
I tend to think in terms of finality and last moments and first moments and such.
Makes life more dramatic that way ;)

Gotta go.
Tearing up already.
I'm gonna be a whole heck of a hot mess next week.
Happy Weekend Friends

Thursday, July 29, 2010

a life changing moment in terms of chalk

Hello new best friends, which can be found here
they take my chalkboard writing experience to a whole new level
no dust, no icky dry chalk feeling on the fingers, and so pretty :)
of course it doesn't have that "old school" feeling of chalk
but I'll trade old school for chills running up and down my spine every time I write any day
I guess I'm not a chalkboard "purist", but I can live with that

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to Get a Clean, Sand-free Little Girl That Smells Good Too!

Here's my fool-proof method to removing sand after a day at the beach:
Take one sandy little girl
Sprinkle on good old fashioned baby powder
go ahead, don't be shy, sprinkle on liberally
rub the sand off, be gentle, you don't need to use much force
and just like magic,
the sand disappears
no tears, no fussing, just a clean and fresh smelling little girl minus a ton of sand that will undoubtedly get all over your car.  better yet, give the kids the bottle and they will keep themselves occupied for at least 20 minutes watching the magic happen, giving you plenty of time to pack up your things.  packing up is always my most hated part of leaving the beach.  do you have any other tips to saving your sanity at the beach?  please share.  we have 2 more beach days before Taylor starts school (we go every Friday to the same spot with the same group of friends).  I plan to try and enjoy every minute of it.
Happy Monday Friends!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cautiously Optimistic

Oh my friends where oh where to begin?
Be forewarned that this post may wander a bit.

This blog has been an extension of me for the past year and it has seen me through probably the most challenging and unsettled year of my life.  You see, in the past year, I've gone from not working part time at a company I once loved but grew to hate, to working part time for my husband, to buying a house, to backing out of a house, to buying another house that I didn't particularly love, to a nightmare of an escrow that put emotional strain on us for a time, to deciding to remodel, to deciding not to remodel, to considering to move again, to now also taking a full time job.  Was the last sentence a roller coaster for you?  Imagine how I've felt living it.

Did you catch that last part of the sentence?  I'll say it again, I'm going back to work.  I'm cautiously optimistic about it.  I had planned on writing  a separate post defending my actions, making this grand announcement about how much I've thought it through and we felt this was the right decision for our family, and yada-yada-yada.  But you know what, all anyone needs to know is that after much soul searching, me and my family are at peace with the decision.  If you would like to leave words of encouragement and congrats, please do so, as I will willingly and lovingly accept them.  If not, then please don't.  A fantastic opportunity plopped itself into my lap recently, and so I will be working at a cool little clothing company as an Account Manager.  Basically, I'll be selling the clothes to the buyers of major department stores.  I've done it before at the previous company I worked at, and I loved it.  It was hands down the most fulfilling and exciting role I had.  I'm excited to see where this opportunity takes me and my family.  If you have any questions about this new role, please shoot me an email and I'll try to answer them as honestly as I can!  For instance if you are concerned that my children are going to be left to be raised by wolves, and want to know how we're going to handle childcare, I can answer you offline.  If you want to know how I am going to get dinner on the table, I will probably tell you that it's not really your concern. 

So where does this leave the other things in my life?  Well for starters, I will be closing down my Etsy shop indefinitely.  If anything what this past year has taught me is that I am very good and content when I am focused on 1-2 things.  I am not good when I am all over the place.  I will continue to sew for my children and make gifts here and there, but the demands of the shop are just completely unrealistic at this time. 

I would like to keep the blog going, although not at its current pace.  I think it would be fun to somehow incorporate my work life and the fashion world into the blog a bit more, but in an honest and genuine way.  I'm going to have to think about it.  I will always love to cook, eat, drink wine and take pictures, that will never change.  I will continue to share my life with my family and the occasional recipe here and there, but really we'll just have to see. 

For a period of time in the past 6 months I have seen this blog as a bit of a burden.  A burden in the sense that I was constantly thinking about how I could make it successful.  Increase readership, followers, write content that was going to get comments, show how crafty I could be, post amazing pictures, and on and on.   I've done a lot of soul searching this past year, and I've even started to see a life coach, and what I have learned about myself is that I've dealt with the upheaval and tragedy in my life by being successful.  First in school, then in my career, then as being a mother.  When I stopped getting a real paycheck (and the hubs doesn't pay me), this world of blogging became something for me to strive to be successful at.  And it is friggin' exhausting folks!  I really don't know how these mega bloggers do it.  In the past couple of weeks I can honestly say I've let go of so much of that and it is liberating.  If people read along then great, but if not, oh well.  I will write what I feel compelled to write and tell my story and share our lives in the most honest and real way possible.

You may be wondering what a life coach is and how it's different than a therapist?  Well her answer is; a therapist has you look in your past and work through it so you can live a better present and future life.  A life coach has you imagine what you want your future to look like, and guides you to what you can do in your present to get that future.  Sounds pretty crazy huh?  It's okay, I know it does.  But after one session I have already started to see a change in my outlook.  She is also a Believer so we can talk through things in terms of how they relate to my spiritual growth with God.

In terms of sharing what I learn in my life coach sessions?  I may or may not.  I tend to be the queen of too much information, and so I will have to make sure I censor myself.  I could share about tragedy and turmoil that has been in my life, because if I've learned anything, it's that the blogging world loves a good tragedy.  Some bloggers share their tragedies in a way that is touching, fearless and joyous.  Some do it in a way that makes it seem like they're capitalizing on it.  I think I better just stick to keeping my mouth shut and focus on the future and the positive.  I'm ready to do that.  We have a new congregation we are attending and are enjoying, I got me a new Bible that I look forward to marking up with pen and highlighter, my husband's business is chugging along and I am open to see what the future brings us.  Thanks for coming along with me.

God Bless.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Playgrounds & Lollipops - Fade to Black

Sunday July 18th, 2010

Breakfast @ Norma's Cafe, Parker Palm Springs

Top: Nordstrom Brass Plum
Skirt: James Perse
Shoes: Sam Edelman
the thought of wearing any other accessories that I brought for this outfit: mind boggling

I heard about the scene here at the Parker.  I've seen the pictures.  I know what kind of hipsters go here.  So I thought, "hmmm, maybe I should look like the kind of girl that is so hip she can look cool in black and dark heathered gray, in the middle of summer."
Result = total fail.  I could be a poster child for the blog.
I am not hip, nor am I cool, especially trying to stand in direct sunlight of a 115 degree desert sun wearing black and gray.  In fact I'm pretty sure I heard someone walk by as Miranda was taking pictures and whisper "what an idiot."  Okay, maybe I'm being paranoid, or maybe that was my inner self-conscious voice I was hearing.
On another note, I do actually love this outfit.  The skirt is fantastic.  You would think it would be slinky and too tight being it is a stretch knit cotton, but instead it is firm and hides my little problem area (the tummy) incredibly well, while showing off my tanned legs (yippe for 15 SPF)!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Light Summer Reads?

 I think I may have gotten a little overly ambitious.
I really am only going for 1 night, by myself, with the kids, that is,
to Legoland.
Yes, come to think of it, 3 books for 1 night?
Completely overly ambitious.
But I get giddy in a library.
The librarian herself couldn't have been more excited by my list.
These 3 were on it of course, in addition to
(anyone read this?)
I hear they're making a mini-series based on the book
When I asked my favorite blogger book nerd Jules if she had read it,
her answer was "Of course I've read that book."
In fact it was the librarian's personal mission to try and get me that book last night
But alas, both copies had vanished, and she looked me in the eye and declared,
"You have to get that book."
Alrighty then.

On another note though, I had asked for somewhat light summer reads last week.
And Mandy and Mel recommended The Shack
Which I will read, but upon further investigation, I don't think this book falls under the category
"light summer reads."
We'll see.  
If you don't hear from me in the next week, call in the search party.
I may have fallen into a book induced traumatized depression.
I'm sensitive like that.

Have a great week everyone.
I'll be back on Friday with Playgrounds & Lollipops.

Monday, July 19, 2010

scenes from a desert weekend:

golf course views
desert butterfly
mountain and palm tree view
The Nest, est. 1965 (in case you can't read the sign)
mommas cutting loose on the dance floor
wild british woman cutting lose on the dance floor
piano bar flair
piano bar man shirt flair
guest piano bar man
iconic desert flair
the knockout
swanky desert architecture
mama in egg chair
jonothan adler birds
smoothie shot
norma's donuts
trying to look cool, calm and collected whilst standing in 115 degree heat
 lemonade stand
fun pops of color
 pretty yellow shoes, perfectly suited for the desert sun

Scenes not included:
2 salami and cheese platters consumed, 4 bottles of wine drank, 3 boxes of Starbucks instant Via coffee gulped down, 8 blended margaritas slurped at the JW Marriott, countless twenty-something bodies at the Marriott pool, 1 bottle of 30 spf sunscreen, lots of magazines read, too many laughs too count, too many therapy tears shed (mainly by me, as the girls tried to walk me through one of the biggest decisions I will ever make), zero books read,1 huge house to get lost in, priceless memories made.

thanks girls.  i will never forget this trip.  ever.

p.s. thank you for all of the book recommendations made last week.  i compiled a list and attempted to go to 2 libraries friday night before i was set to meet up with the girls.  both were closed, hence, zero books read.  however, i plan to go today and first pick up the shack.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mission Possible Part 2

Today is a day to fight the good fight, don't you think?
{this picture has nothing to do with anything in this post really, I just liked the composition, 
so please excuse my stretch to make it somehow fit in here.  Thank you.}

To help you fight that fight, fuel up with this:
And wash it down with this:
Ya baby, now we're talking.

Pork Chops + Squash from Better Homes & Gardens 20 to Try (July 2010 issue):
Brush 4 pork loin chops and 4 small zucchini and or yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise, with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper and grill over medium heat.  Grill squash 6-8 minutes and pork chops 11-13 minutes, until squash is tender and pork chops are just slightly pink (about 160 degrees).  Meanwhile stir together 1 peeled and chopped orange and 1/2 cup bottled salsa together.  Spoon salsa over pork chops and cut sqash into bite size pieces.
The verdict: 4 out of 5 stars.  The chops were nice and simple, but definitely still good.  And the salsa/orange mixture was a nice added touch.  I think what I am enjoying most about these meal ideas, is that they are whole meal ideas as opposed to just individual dish recipes.  I don't have to think about the side dishes and such, they already did that work for me.

Perfect No-Cook Strawberry Ice Cream:
1 pound fresh strawberries, trimmed and halved
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
Coarsely mash strawberries with sugar, lemon juice and salt using a potato masher in a large bowl.  Let stand, stirring and mashing occasionally for 10 minutes.  Transfer half of strawberry mixture to a blender and puree with cream until smooth.  Return strawberry cream to bowl with remaining strawberries and either pour into ice cream mixer or freeze in a bowl overnight.  
The verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Creamy, intense strawberry flavor with no fuss at all.  The best part?  The little chunks of strawberries in every bite. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday This & That

I know, I know, I'm very original on Tuesday mornings.  Another round of random ramblings on my part, but this time I am accepting reader participation, so pay attention my lovely friends!

1. I am doing my weekly push to encourage some voting for my nephew's school Rose Drive Elementary!  They have a chance to win a $250,000 grant from Pepsi to help their school go green to save some green.  The contest is 100% voter driven, so every single vote counts!  You can vote once a day every day, so please pop over to Pepsi Refresh to vote today!

2. If you are a local Southern California resident, you may want to consider stopping in to Chartreuse Home Furnishings for their annual Summer Sale.  Everything on the floor is 15% off and they have an amazing showroom filled with delights of every kind and price range.  Mention their blog and you will be entered into a drawing to win a custom silk floral arrangement.  Check out a few of their most recent pieces:
3. So this weekend I am going away on a "girls trip".  I am excited.  It is my first trip of this kind since becoming a mom.  We will be staying at a friend's grandma's house in Palm Desert swimming and trying to stay cool.  The forecast is 115 degrees.  Oh mommy.  We will be sweating and drinking and laughing and eating here Sunday morning.  Let's see how hip and swanky we look with kinky hair and sweat ring stains. 
So while I mention this trip not to incite jealousy on your part, although, come on, with 115 degree heat who wouldn't be jealous?  I mention it because I do want to hear your book recommendations.  I want to just take one book with me.  A good summer read, not necessarily heavy, but not too light.  I like my books with some substance and meaning, but I don't want to end the book feeling like I'm going to slit my wrists, so no Jodi Picoult book recs please.  Keep in mind that I have already read The Help, so that's checked off.  What else my friends should I whirlwind through on my trip?

4. I will be hosting a giveaway starting today at Life Rearranged (post to be up later and will link it once it is up and go into more details).  Stay tuned and/or please check back :)  Jeannett started the blog as a way to chronicle life as a mom, but also as a way to raise money and be charitable.  Every couple of weeks she hosts a new blogger to tell a story how their life has been rearranged, and the guest blogger then chooses a charity to raise money for.  Each guest blog post has a giveaway (this is where I come in with my Etsy shop).  You get a chance to enter to win the giveaway by donating amounts of any amount.  $1 gets you 1 entry, $10 gets you 10.  Simple and easy right?  She has raised over $2000 for various charities so far.  Amazing and I am honored to be a part of it.

5. Lastly, if you are my Facebook friend, you may already know about "The Runner".  If not, here you go...there is a young man that runs through our neighborhood, actually just around the elementary school across the street, 2 times a day everyday.  He wears the same thing each time he runs and he runs at the exact same times every day.  My husband had never noticed him until I mentioned him, and now he is like our phenomenon.  We are trying to figure out why he is running, is he in training, is he just bored, is he obsessive, and for goodness sake, why does he wear the same thing every time he runs?  Please keep in mind that while it may appear we are poking fun at him, deep down we are both envious of this young man's dedication, endurance and stamina, and focus.
Yesterday on his way to work Art snapped a shot with his camera phone and sent it to me, to which I immediately started busting up.  He always knows how to make me laugh!
So now we are taking a poll.
How many of you think he has multiple sets of the same exact running gear and changes them twice a day?
How many think he wears the same one running outfit day in and day out?
How many think he washes the outfit every day in between runs?
C'mon, play along just for fun!

Alright friends, back to work for me :)
I will be double posting tonight, so be on the lookout for my 3rd recipe from Better Homes & Gardens 20 to Try.
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mission Possible

The challenge for the week:
Make a meal plan (mission completed)
Set a $75 grocery budget for the week & pay only in cash (slightly over budget by about $5.04)
Make 5 new recipes (20 to Try from July 2010 issue of Better Homes & Gardens)

Apple Bacon Burger - Recipe #1 (Saturday July 10th, 2010)
For the burgers, mix 1/2 lb Italian Sausage (I just used basil chicken sausage because it was on sale) and 1/2 lb ground beef and 1 cored and finely chopped Granny Smith apple (no need to peel).  Shape into burgers (I also added a little Salt & Pepper) and Grill.
Make a tangy-sweet spread by stirring together 2 tbsp mayo, 1 tbsp Dijon style mustard, and honey to taste.  Slather on toasted bun and top with burger, additional thin slices of green apple, and crisp pieces of cooked bacon.  We also added cheddar cheese and avocado. 
The verdict: 5 out of 5 stars.  This burger was amazing!!!  So easy, and moist, probably from the pieces of apple.  And the pieces of apple were such a nice little crunchy surprise in every bite.  I highly recommend this burger for any summer BBQ feast.

No Cook Peach Ice Cream - Dessert (Saturday July 10th, 2010)
1 egg beaten
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp white sugar
2 1/2 fresh peaches pitted and chopped
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c half & half
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
In large bowl, mix together eggs & sugar until smooth.  puree peaches in a blender and stir 5 cups of puree into egg mixture.  stir in cream, half & half, vanilla and salt and mix well.  Pour into freezer canister or ice cream maker and freeze.  

Later in the week I will post some pictures of us with our Cuisinart Ice Cream Machine.  But for now, drool over this:
The verdict, 3 3/4 out of 5 stars.  Let me preface this by saying that any no-cook ice cream recipe is going to pale in comparison to a cooked ice cream recipe.  You will just never get that rich, custardy taste from no-cook.  But with that being said, no-cook is a ton easier to make, especially with little ones under foot.  This recipe was simple and easy, and the peach flavor is less intense the next day after freezing over night.  There are fresh little bits of peach mixed in which are superb!  I have 3 more ice cream recipes to share with you guys this week including strawberry and fig, so be on the look out!

Salmon & Ravioli - Recipe #2 (Sunday July 11th, 2010)
Cook 1 9 oz package refrigerated cheese ravioli & drain.  Meanwhile, rinse 2 6 oz salmon fillets and pat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in a skillet and cook salmon over medium heat until salmon flakes easily.  Remove salmon and keep warm.  Add one 6 oz package of baby spinach to skillet and cook until just wilted; remove from skillet.  Melt 2 tbsp butter in the skillet with 3 slices garlic cloves.  Halve a lemon and squeeze juice from 1/2 into the butter and garlic and warm through.  Divide salmon, ravioli and spinach into 2 plates and drizzle warm butter mixture over dish.  Top with shredded Parmesan cheese
The verdict: Divine!  5 out of 5 stars.  So easy and simple, why didn't I think of this?  I'll be honest, I winced a little when I saw the refrigerated raviolis, being that they remind me of our newlywed days and they were about the only thing Art knew how to make.  Needless to say, 24 year old working kids didn't yet have many skills in the kitchen, so we ate a lot of these raviolis!  But I gave them the benefit of the doubt, and I tell ya, the spinach with the salmon and the warm lemon garlic butter just elevated refrigerated raviolis to a whole new level!  And the best part?  I had this recipe cooked and plated in about 25 minutes flat.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Playgrounds & Lollipops - No Memory

Thursday July 8th, 2010

Watson's Pharmacy for lunch with the kids and some other friends

Sweater: Loft
T-Shirt: Forever 21
Skirt: Marshall's
Pin: c/o Pleated Poppy
Belt: Gap
Shoes: Anthropologie

Well folks, this is all you're gonna get to see of our trip to Watson's in Old Town Orange yesterday, what I wore.  The stars were not aligned yesterday, or it was a full moon because it was a weird day.  I watched my friend's little girl yesterday, so on top of having to get my 2 ready by 9 am, I had a 3rd to contend with.  While rushing out of the house to make another mechanics appointment down in Newport Beach, I remembered my camera...but not the memory card.  I discovered this sad fact once we had already arrived (late) to Old Town Orange.

I had visions of snapping a whole slew of pictures of this darling town for a great series of blog posts, which included my Playgrounds & Lollipops post for today, standing in front of a charming old building.  Instead you have to settle for the front of my house, again.  So no cute pictures of 7 little girls sipping milk shakes or 2 rambunctious 3 year old boys wreaking havoc down the aisles of a old drug store.  Too bad so sad.

As we were leaving this town, I was trying to get my 3 in charge across the street, a man in a big Mercedes nearly pushed us out of the crosswalk, almost hitting Syd, to which I yelled, "Are you kidding me?!?!"  To which he yelled, "Move along Weirdo!!!"  To which I thought, "does this outfit make me look weird?"  I think not. 

So yeah, the outfit, sort of the point of this post, but I realize the point of this post is being lost on my memories of the day we had.  I like it, what do you think?  The skirt was originally intended as my 4th of July outfit, but realizing it wasn't quite patriotic enough, I decided to keep it anyhow.  For $12.99 why the heck not?  I loved that it had the perfect sized belt loops to fit this thick belt I've had for years and never seem to be able to wear.  Throw in a cute T-shirt, and done.  It's been cold here in So Cal by the way, so I'm still carrying around a sweater and decided to get a few more uses out of my favorite shoes before sandal season is permanently here.

Take that Weirdo man in the huge Mercedes!  Shame on you!  I hope you couldn't sleep last night thinking about how you yelled at a poor mom and her three children.


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